Hands on with the Khan Academy iPad app

Khan Academy fans, fire up your App Stores: The online video tutorial powerhouse has released a native iPad app to give learners anytime, anywhere access to the thousands of lectures available on the site. In spite of my reservations of Khan Academy (more on that in a moment) I’ve downloaded it and kicked the tires a bit–here are some initial thoughts.

NewImage.pngThe application itself is a nicely-done video viewer. Two key features jump out: First, a timestamped transcript, making it easy to follow along with transcribed videos (not all videos have transcripts yet); and second, the ability to download videos (with their transcripts) for offline access–great for taking Khan Academy with you on the plane or on road trips.

As you might imagine, the tech blogs have already chimed in on the new app, including Fast Company and Mashable. I’m not seeing much from education bloggers (yet).

Now, about those reservations–by and large, I think Salman Khan is doing great work toward replacing the textbook. I said textbook. What I’ve realized is that maybe my reservations about these video tutorials have less to do with the tutorials themselves and more about the ways they’re being used (or being suggested to use) by otherwise well-meaning educators and billionaires. Video lectures–regardless of their quality–are not the “future of educations.” They are part of the future of education, maybe, but they’re not the panacea I fret too many people make them out to be.

If you disagree with me, let me have it in the comments below.

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Aaron Sumner

Aaron Sumner is the Director of Technology for Research and Development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has worked in web development and instructional technology since 1994.